Exactly five years ago, Pope Francis embarked on a historic trip to the United Arab Emirates. It was a visit full of symbolism, the first by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula. But also of gestures and concrete actions, as tangible as the warm hug between the Pope and the Imam of Al Azahar. And the greatest of them, an act as historic as the trip itself: the signing between them of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence.”
A year after that event, in recognition of its importance, the United Nations declared February 4 as the Day of Human Fraternity. And since then, year after year we dedicate this date to celebrating coexistence and fraternity.
Doing so was almost a given. We celebrate shared values, the lessons, and experiences that coexistence enables us. We highlight the fraternity among Jews, Catholics, and Muslims, so characteristic of the Latin American experience and the result of many years of work and building, in which the Latin American Jewish Congress has been a protagonist and promoter.
However, this year I found myself facing a difficulty. Is it possible to talk about fraternity at a time when our communities are so traversed by pain, where differences become skin in our identity?
It's true, this time these lines are not so simple for me. But they are more necessary than ever. When differences seem to be the order of the day, fraternity becomes imperative. And like any good that suddenly becomes scarce, its value increases exponentially.
Today every small gesture counts. Every interaction, every dialogue, every chance encounter can be a link in the chain of human brotherhood. Small actions, not always public, not always visible, that account for years of work and construction. Coexistence is not obvious, but it is still alive in our region. Perhaps therefore it is not surprising that even in times of tension, the alarming level of antisemitism and Islamophobia that appears on the other side of the Atlantic has not been seen in these latitudes.
In these challenging times, it is imperative to remember that brotherhood is the basis of peace, and transcends borders, cultures, and religions. It is not just an ideal, nor the product of divine providence. Fraternity must be a daily practice, even in disagreements. After all, coexistence is not based on the dilution of differences, but on their vindication.
The path taken to get here has not been easy, but it was possible due to the actions and decisions of courageous leaders capable of maintaining spaces for dialogue and encountering differences. Where there is a fracture, it is not enough to analyze its causes. It is our duty as good men and women to work to correct it.
Today, more than ever, the call to fraternity resonates strongly. It invites us to look forward with hope, knowing that, together, we can overcome the challenges we face. On this Day of Human Fraternity, we reaffirm our commitment to be architects of peace, builders of bridges, and heralds of a more fraternal world.